Biden gives some clues on potential compromises to his social safety net plan

President Joe Biden laid out areas of potential compromise to his massive 10-year spending plan during a speech on Friday at a childcare center in Connecticut.

“I’m convinced we’re going to get this done,” Biden said of the ongoing negotiations during the first stop of his trip in Hartford. “We’re not going to get $3.5 trillion. We’ll get less than that. But we’ll get it. And we’ll come back and get the rest.”

Earlier in the speech, which was aimed at highlighting his administration’s childcare proposals in the plan, Biden also suggested free community college may be an area that gets cut.

“I don’t know that I can get it done, but I also have proposed free community college, like you’ve done here in the state of Connecticut, to help students from lower-income families attend community college (and) four-year schools.”

The President argued that the US “cannot be competitive in the 21st century in this global economy if we fail to invest.”

“I wanted to come here today because too many folks in Washington still don’t realize it isn’t enough to just invest in our physical infrastructure. We also have to invest in our people,” he continued.

“Seeing children and educators here at this center is a perfect reminder about what our families need, and our economy needs so badly to be able to thrive,” Biden said.

During his speech, the President also recalled the challenges of becoming a single father after his first wife and daughter died in a car crash.

“It made me realize how difficult it is for a vast majority of people who need help,” Biden said. “I am lucky. I had a mother who was nearby, a sister — who’s my best friend, who quit her job temporarily … most people don’t have that option.”

While in Connecticut, Biden is also expected to attend a dedication ceremony later Friday at the Dodd Center for Human Rights at the University of Connecticut. The center is named after Nuremberg prosecutor and former US Sen. Thomas Dodd and his son, former US Sen. Chris Dodd — Biden’s longtime friend and peer in the Senate.

It’s expected that Biden will see every member of the Connecticut congressional delegation during the trip, as well as Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and US Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, according to the White House.

Ahead of his departure to Connecticut, Biden again refrained from speaking with reporters. A senior administration official indicated that the President’s mum behavior is to avoid saying something that could jeopardize negotiations with Congress to secure a deal for his legislative priorities.

While it’s ultimately up to the President if he wants to take questions, the senior administration official says there is a reason behind Biden’s silence.

“He doesn’t want to add to the conversation,” the official told CNN regarding negotiations over the fate of his domestic agenda. “He doesn’t want to shift anything” by commenting publicly.

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Connecticut, White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to say whether the trip, focused in part on childcare, is indicative of concern from the White House that the childcare provisions in the social safety net expansion package could be slimmed down during negotiations.

Jean-Pierre also would not answer whether Biden would sign a bill that did not include a part of his child care components.

The President, who often interacts with the press corps, also didn’t take questions following remarks on the global supply chain while in the Oval Office with the Kenyan President on Thursday or as he addressed the disappointing jobs report last week.

White House officials have started signaling that they are ready to see movement on the reconciliation package soon, though CNN has reported that a deal on the party’s sweeping economic package “is far from secured.”

Biden has spoken privately to the two leading Democratic moderates who are at the center of his stalled agenda in Congress, but aides have declined to detail his latest talks with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin or Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.

“I’m just not going to give you a lay-down of every call,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday, noting both Biden and senior staff have been in touch with the lawmakers.

The-CNN-Wire
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